Flicker of hope for Afghan refugees in a tiny Jangpura basement

Among the children enrolled there, some aspire to be doctors and engineers, others dream of becoming pilots and teachers.

The Afghan refugees claimed access to education in their country had been mostly impossible since the Taliban took over in 2021. (Photo: Twitter)

Amid a labyrinth of shops in a bustling market in south Delhi’s Jangpura, lies a tiny room in a basement where around 300 refugees from Afghanistan are taught English and familiarised about Indian society to help them get employment.

Hoping for a fresh start, Afghan refugees of all age groups attend classes at the Anjam Knowledge House – a community school started by another refugee, Ahmad Khan Anjam, some six years ago.

Among the children enrolled here, some aspire to be doctors and engineers, others dream of becoming pilots and teachers.

“I want to become a pilot,” said an enthusiastic 10-year-old Yasir, who arrived in India with his family around five years ago.

Fifteen-year-old Reema Hassan, an ambitious teenager, wants to become a doctor. “I want to be a doctor when I grow up. I am very keen to study and learn, and I hope to have a successful career.” Ahmad Khan Anjam, who started the community school, came to India six years ago. Anjam Knowledge House is the result of his efforts to help fellow refugees survive in society and make a living here.

“When it comes to adjusting in the society, the first problem is the language barrier. Most of them speak only Pashto and hence, we teach English and grammar to the students here. We also teach them about the Indian cultures like Holi and Diwali,” Anjam said.

He said the school faced financial issues after the outbreak of COVID-19 in India and the number of teachers had to be reduced.

“Before the pandemic, there were around 16 teachers and more than 600 students attended classes here. But the coronavirus outbreak severely impacted our finances. Now, there are six teachers and around 300 students,” Anjam said.

But the students need to study other important subjects as well to have a career and for that the school needs support, he added.

“I reached out to the Indian government and appealed to them for help and support multiple times but received no response. People who come here for education cannot have a career until they get to study other important subjects along with English,” Anjam said.

Twelve-year-old Fatima, who arrived in India five years ago, said she learnt about Indian cultures at the community school.

“My family and I arrived in India in 2017. I have been studying at this institute for five years. We study English and also get to learn about Indian cultures,” she said.

Umar Ahmed, 10, another student at the ‘Anjam Knowledge House’, said he arrived in India with his family around eight years ago and has been studying at the community school since last year.

“I like studying here and have made new friends too,” Ahmed told PTI.

The Afghan refugees claimed access to education in their country had been mostly impossible since the Taliban took over in 2021.

Many children in this school have never been to an educational institute until they arrived in India.

(With PTI inputs)

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